In an effort to further serve communities, Rocky Mountain Conference Adventist Community Service Director Cathy Kissner recently procured an agreement with the Red Cross that would allow qualifying churches and schools to be designated as shelters for anyone in the community impacted by a natural disaster—tornado, hurricane, tsunami, fire—or by other incidents—intruder, shooting, etc. These shelters would be used when localized shelter operations are unfeasible or when sheltering activities are consuming resources that might otherwise be dedicated to recovery operations.
“One of the primary concerns for us is whether the Red Cross would allow someone from our ‘agency’ to be present when the shelter is open so that they don’t violate our standards,” commented Cathy. “[For instance], we don’t want people sleeping in the sanctuary, smoking, drinking alcohol or serving pork. We would, however, welcome people using our sanctuary as a prayer chapel. Those are the kind of things our people must be trained in.”
Conference-owned facilities that would like to be considered as a sheltering facility and whose facility meets the necessary standards will be invited to become part of this agreement when plans are solidified.
Still at the early stages of planning, a sheltering facility would have to meet ADA requirements—they must have showers, be able to serve food and have cots in separate rooms for family units, single women, and single men.
Those in need of sheltering would be routed to a shelter through the local jurisdictional authority.
After the Las Vegas shooting during the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert last October, some Adventist pastors who wanted to aid the victims were turned away because they didn’t have the credentials needed. Cathy wants to remedy that by providing Spiritual Care training so that pastors can be certified. Besides the training, pastors or others wanting to be trained would have to present a letter of recommendation and be vetted through a high-level background check.
For the first time, an ACSDR Crisis Care team in Florida was allowed to meet with students affected by the school shooting. Pastors, doctors, teachers, counselors or any layman who have been trained and understand the requirements could be considered for the Crisis Care Counselor Response Team.
After experiencing an event such as the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida or the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, many are traumatized and need spiritual care in a safe place. They may act in ways that would not be characteristic under normal circumstances. Caregivers must respond carefully, aware of the power of words to dishearten or to support. Training would raise their awareness of appropriate and inappropriate statements.
The training materials are nearing completion according to the committee developing resources. However, "the plan can’t be implemented until its various parts are activated and people prepared," said Cathy.
This article was written by Carol Bolden and originally appeared on the Rocky Mountain Conference website. It is reprinted here with permission.
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